Genesis 6-9: A disturbing corner of the Bible

Loren RossonDarren Aronofsky’s film Noah is currently in theaters and his graphic novel provides a taste of it.

It’s refreshing to see this famous story of the Bible get a creative work-over. Films about Jesus are cranked out every other year, but what about the more challenging (and disturbing) corners of the Bible? Like Job. Or the war stories of Saul and David. Revelation too. And of course, the flood in Genesis.

Noah

“Noah” by Darren Aronofsky is available at the library as a graphic novel.

Noah pulls no punches over God’s act of genocide. Aronofsky takes license filling in the blanks of Genesis 6-9, but remains true to the heart of the story: a righteous man and his family are spared the global holocaust and commissioned to preserve the animal creation while humanity is wiped out–because people, in God’s eyes, deserve nothing less.

Vengeance and vegetarianism
Some critics have complained that the theme of divine vengeance has been aligned with pagan environmentalism or vegetarianism, but there actually is a significant amount of “environmentalism” that can be derived from the Bible. As for vegetarianism, the account of Genesis implies that God didn’t add meat to the human diet until after the flood (Gen 9:3) anyway. (See Chris Heard’s review on these points.) I don’t think Aronofsky’s Noah can be called pro-environmental in any true modern sense, though it can certainly resonate with some viewers on that level.

The crux of the film and graphic novel comes in Noah’s homicidal fit on board the Ark, where he intends to butcher his newborn granddaughters. After long moments of agony he finally stops himself, but it’s a struggle against his dark side that he barely wins.

Noah takes the vengeful character of God seriously, with a fleshed out portrait of a “righteous” hero who ends up mirroring the image of the divine. It is no less troubling for that, but I think it handles the subject with an appropriate balance. Both the film and graphic novel entertain above all, but they also force hard and fascinating questions about divine justice.

About Loren Rosson

Loren Rosson heads up the circulation department at the Nashua Public Library. He's worked at the library since graduating from Lewis and Clark College, with the exception of the two years he spent in Lesotho with the Peace Corps, teaching high school.

Comments are closed.